July 20

Connected Learning MOOC (#CLMOOC) Make Cycle #5 – “Light”

One of the challenges for this  week’s #CLMOOC make cycle was to add a (made-up) constellation to a group “sky.” The project, initiated by Kevin Hodgson, consisted of two parts; designing and adding the constellation to a map, and writing a myth to explain the constellation. I hemmed and hawed around all week, thinking about how to combine some traditional myth(s) with what CLMOOC is all about – using creativity, imagination, and play as components of learning.

I easily concluded that Raven would be my mythological character. In Norse mythology, Odin has two ravens, Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory). They act as his attendants, and fly around the world, delivering information and gathering other information to report back to Odin. Many Native American tribes depict Raven as a creation and trickster god. This includes the Haida Indians, who are indigenous to southeast Alaska, where I grew up. Among other things, they attribute Raven with creating all the objects we see in the sky.

I also knew I wanted to intertwine the reasons we CLMOOOCers are spending our summer writing, making, and tinkering into my story. When I eventually sat down to actually write, the words came easily. I spent very little time editing, because I liked the result. My muse had spoken.

However, and here I get to the crux of this post. After I had submitted my story for the public to see, I began the harsh self-critique. Maybe I should have put a comma here, or used a different vocabulary word there. I quickly stopped, and asked myself: “Does the story portray what you wanted to say?” (Yes.) “Would changes in mechanics or using synonyms REALLY change the meaning of the story?” (No.)

My tendency to negative self-talk is rooted in a childhood where I was incapable of meeting my mother’s exacting standards. A deep-rooted “I’m not good enough” developed, and decades later still has the power to dis-empower me, if I let it. I am quite sure I am not the only person on this planet that has ingrained saboteurs of this type. Some of our students fall into this category.

My own self-reflection was a strong reminder of how useful structured self-reflection is for students. It gives them a framework for evaluating their own work in a positive, supportive way. Instead of nitpicking the small details (that others may not even notice), how does the whole appear? If the student is not satisfied, based upon an assessment process, it is time for a revision cycle. If overall, the product is pleasing, let the rest go. Perfection does not exist, and if perfection is our goal, we will simply end up in modes of paralysis and procrastination.

My story:

Corvus Cogitandum

In the beginning all children were curious about the world around them. They explored with all their senses, and developed great knowledge and understanding. They were surrounded by supportive adults and older children who encouraged them, and gently guided them. Then, a pseudo-wise man declared, “Ah, I have a better idea. Let us treat all children identically, and seat them in rows, and impart knowledge by droning on for hours.” And, it was so.
Initially, the pseudo-wise man’s plan worked well. Children grew up with a common understanding of events, and dates, and formulas. The identical graduates marched off to their identical jobs in identical places of employment. The sky was dark.
Then, one day, the rebel RAVEN plopped himself in the midst of a chemistry classroom. “What IS this?,” he squawked. “Where is imagination, and creativity, and individuality?” He grabbed the mound of phosphorous resting on the teacher’s desk, exploded through the roof, scattering the material in the sky. Thus began the first light of the stars.
The next day, many people discussed this startling event. Some of them, despite the naysaying tongues, began to nod their heads, and to think more about the light. The illumination created cheeriness and positive energy, and they wondered how to ignite it even further.
So, they gathered the children, and led them to the maker lab. The children began combining all sorts of materials and ideas. Some of these experiments resulted in big explosions, and dust all around. Some fizzled into forgotten-ness. But, one day, a group was inspired to create a great ball of gases. RAVEN carried it high into the sky, and the sun began to illuminate each part of the earth for half of the day.
Some makers were frustrated, as they wanted some form of brightness for those middle-of-the-night hours when their tinkering powers were at their peak. So, they created an object that could reflect the sun. RAVEN carried it to the heavens, and placed it in just the right location. Thus, the moon was born.
More and more people saw the light, both adults and children, and began imagining creations of their own. RAVEN visited these brave, hearty souls and soared into the heavens with their inventions of galaxies, and black holes, and dark energy.
Some of the boldest souls gathered together to participate in #CLMOOC, where all are connected. No idea is too large or too small, and LIGHT abounds.
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